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December 11, 2019

By: Patti LaCroix/LaCroix Alpacas

ELECTRIC FENCING, Alpacas, & People! (LaCroix Alpacas)

It works!

JUMANJI meeting his new herd mates.

JUMANJI meeting his new herd mates.

When I decided to expand my pastures a few years ago, I chose to use electric rope fencing, primarily because it is much less expensive than wire fencing. A combination of supporting T-posts and fiberglass rods allowed me to have the great advantage of flexibility in changing paddock/pasture configurations before boundaries were made permanent with wooden corner posts.

To attest to the strength and reliability of good quality electric fencing, I awoke one winter morning to find that three white pine branches, from near the top of a large tree, had fallen onto the fencing under the heavy weight of ice and snow. Under the huge force of the heavily laden limbs breaking simultaneously, insulators had been pulled from the metal T-posts but only needed to be repositioned to put the fence back in working order. Wow!

The rare disadvantage of using electric fencing is that any electric rope that is buried by snow will short and make the fence ineffective. However, in such snowy conditions, my alpacas stay close to the barn and wander in the snow very little, and so I disconnect most of the fencing when there is snow, except for a very few essential ropes that are kept snow-free.

ALPACAS AND ELECTRIC FENCING:

My experiences with alpacas and electric rope fencing have been positive. Alpaca crias, even newborns, stay a safe distance from the electric ropes, altough I don't understand how they know to do so. My only problem has been with the alpaca cria's cunning ability to sense when the fencing is turned OFF. This rarely happens and occurs when the fencing has been turned off for a long period of time: for instance, during a very rainy period. At this point, I must allow the cria to shock itself on the nose in order to deter further escapes. No harm is done, and the cria learns very quickly to stay inside of the pastures.

PEOPLE AND ELECTRIC FENCING:

Although alpacas, even new-born crias, adapt to electrified fencing very easily, people don't. Therefore, being able to turn the fencing ON and OFF conveniently in order to avoid being shocked is definitely an issue. This problem has been resolved by installing a relay that allows the entire fencing to be turned ON or OFF at either the house or the barn. [I use a small American flag at the house switch to indicate whether the fencing is ON or OFF.] There are also gates with simple pasture/paddock switches that enable me to conveniently turn On or Off limited sections of the fencing, as well.

WHITE PINE TREES:

There are only a few white pine trees in our paddocks, thankfully! They provide wonderful shade and the sap has not been a problem BUT the limbs do break too easily because they grow upward. Therefore, I don't recommend planting white pines.

If you are considering electric fencing, I hope that my experiences are helpful. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Inferno's TEMPEST demonstrating her comfort with electric fencing!

Inferno's TEMPEST demonstrating her comfort with electric fencing!

March 2015: Three pine limbs that fell on electric fencing.

March 2015: Three pine limbs that fell on electric fencing.

"Damage" close up.